The modern fertility clinic

After the initial consultation at the fertility clinic, the first phase in addressing difficulties conceiving is testing for both the man and woman in question. For men it means a sperm analysis, and for women the first thing to be checked is that ovulation is occurring properly and there are no blockages in the fallopian tubes (tubal patency testing). The female tests have to occur at the clinic, but these days the sperm sample can be produced at home in a more familiar environment.

Somewhere between 30% and 40% of fertility problems in couples can be attributed to the male side. The sperm is tested for concentration (how much there is), motility (how active and mobile it is), form (what it looks like under a microscope), and volume after a period of abstention. White blood cells in it are also analysed. Two samples are usually taken some time apart in case abnormalities were caused by an infection or other factors like a heavy night on the town.

Female fertility problems usually fall into three categories. The most common are blockages in the fallopian tubes, sometimes caused by an infection, endometriosis, which is a medical condition that may also cause pain during periods and other symptoms and the third has to do with ovulation not occurring properly which could be caused by something like ovarian cysts.

Most fertility problems can be addressed or at least minimised. Even in the small number of cases where the cause of the difficulties isn’t apparent, modern fertility clinics have procedures that can optimise the chance of falling pregnant. Some of these techniques include ovarian stimulation, direct insemination, and if all else fails, IVF treatment. Most couples, however, won’t need to progress that far before meeting with success.

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